Of Strength, Courage and Faith
What am I doing here in this office…why…but she knew why. The events of the past 18 months still spun around in her mind like butterflies dancing around a sunflower. Causing her sleepless nights. It was as though she could not shut down. This has now rendered her exhausted, mentally, physically but thank God, not spiritually.
Somehow mere fumes or maybe the push of some unseen force was moving her forward. She laughs. Maybe one of her grandparents was her guardian angel. The thought of that brought a smile to her face as she knew the resilience of any one of them would surely see her through this, this chaos, this fear. Smiling, laughing, were things she has not been doing a lot of in these times.
If she were honest to her therapist, she was no stranger to therapy…hmmm…, the seasons of life she has encountered lead her to many a counselor to remain sane and regain her strength. She could testify to the benefits of such sessions but this time she was simply drained.
The constant news on the pandemic was consuming every medium. The images of bodies in body bags piled in mass graves and delivery freezer trucks filled with the bodies of someone’s family member stains her subconscious mind. Why does this feel like she has seen these images before in some sci-fi movie she watched with her cousins, when they were pre-teens which often found them sweating and huddled in a ball as one cohesive being, trying to make it to the end of another rented VHS tape in the VCR. She chuckled at the image.
Funny how she had conjured so many happy thoughts that brought a smile and even a little laugh while sitting in Dr. Moore’s office. Staring through the window at the ocean must be the reason. Dr. Moore’s office felt so welcoming. In fact, it showcased the level of homeyness she loves. Soft, grey walls, energized with varying shades of blues furnishing and subtly incorporating green plants with pops of sunlit, gold orchids to add a final touch of nature. But the ocean. This has always been a place of calm for her. Her favorite shade of blue and the rolling sound of the waves always gave her a feeling of zen and in that peaceful state she could sleep. Oh, maybe she should go to the beach to relax and sleep…no, the beaches were all closed.
Depression set in and her thoughts once again began to drift into all that this pandemic had presented. Being in isolation had brought claustrophobic episodes to the fore on many occasions. Clara could feel one beginning to surface now. She breathed deeply trying to calm her fears and convince herself she would get out of this place. Yet the phobia of the moment continued to intensify. Trying to take another deep inhalation of oxygen Clara started an attempt at talking herself down, she knew she had to fight to regain control as her heart begun to pound excessively in her chest leaving her breathless, while perspiration dripped from her hands. “I can’t breathe. I need some fresh air.” She started panting. What if the Covid is in the atmosphere? So many people are in this isolation center. My Lord, I need to get out of here now!
As she got up and dizzily started to move forward towards the black framed, frosted, glass office door, she was jolted by the name on the door, ‘Dr. Adrian Moore’ and the loud voice behind her demanding, “Clara where are you going? Stop! Come back! You are in a safe place.” Turning around she saw Dr. Moore sitting in his familiar teal blue office chair with the oceanic view of the in the background, …Yes, she was at one of her weekly therapy sessions. Breathe… Calm.
Poor Dr. Moore was tasked with helping her reconcile how she got COVID-19 and was now without a husband. Why did God let this happen? How could she go into the isolation center and he die at home? Questions. Questions. Constant questions. Dr. Moore was wasting his time. Only God could help her now.
As she walked back over to Dr. Moore’s desk Clara thought about the last occasion she and Tomas spent quality time together. It was on one of their date nights. After taking a week to clean up ninety percent of the ash accumulated on their property from the eruption of La Soufriere they needed a break. Some ‘fresh air’. He never forgot her love of the beach and you could bet if it was his turn to plan their date they would end up at some location where the ocean was in view or right below. Taking turns at surprising each other made these dates even more special and exciting.
They would both have something they fancied on this date as the venue was one of Clara’s favourite picnic spots and the menu was prepared by Tomas’s favourite restaurant. Tomas made sure of it. He purposed to plan it this way given one never new when another curfew or lockdown was coming. Driving around you could see they were still large numbers of people who weren’t following the protocols and clearly did not concern themselves about Covid.
It was a lovely evening. While lying on the grass watching the sun go down beneath the horizon Tomas’s mobile phone began to ring. “Oh sorry my love.” He apologized, “I forgot to turn it off.” Reaching over Clara and slipping a kiss on the tip of her nose he picked up his phone and switched it to silent. This memory would forever be etched in her brain. She could smell the freshness of the ocean and feel the breeze grazing across her face as she reminisced on that moment in time.
Driving home from Bathsheba it felt like old times. Thoughts of Covid, Soufriere or Elsa were far from their minds. As they approached the long driveway with their home ahead of them Clara looked out at all that God had blessed them with and gave thanks. She no longer had a job. Covid had caused the gift shop that successfully survived a recession to crumble as tourism halted in the region. Yet Tomas continued to do well in the Farmer’s Market and even picked up more clients through online shoppers. This kept food on their tables and allowed them to help others who weren’t as fortunate as her since they lost their only means of income.
Entering the house the Clara’s mobile phone and the landline both rang at the same time, somewhat startingly. Clara answered her phone while Tomas answered the house phone. “Hello.” They both stated. Looking at each other they each quietly listened to the person on the other end. Still focused on each other their eyes widened almost in unison. “You must be mistaken! This cannot be happening!” Tomas exclaims with eyes still on Clara. Who drops her mobile phone and slowly feels her body going down towards the ground as her knees weaken.
The night into the next morning seemed to drag as the couple waited to be collected and taken to a quarantine center. “We will be fine…neither of us have Covid. This is just a precaution they must
take as I would have been one of the people exposed to the hostess at the restaurant. Remember standard contact tracing. Okay?” “ Yes, Clara softly answered. That was all she could manage.
Waiting seemed forever. On arrival to the quarantine center they were screened, tested and sent to a room until their results came back. As the days went by Clara felt as though she was loosing her mind and thoughts of all kinds of horrible outcomes floated around her mind. In the moments her claustrophobia surfaced Tomas talked her down as he always did. He knew how to easily return her to a state of calm. Afterall, he had lots of practice over the years.
Ring, ring, ring. Neither of them wanted to answer. Clara had vomited twice for the morning and was now developing a fever. Thus far Tomas felt fine. They knew what was coming. As Clara received a positive test she was transferred to the main facility. They were going to be separated. Tomas’s test was negative but obviously he would have to be retested.
Tomas was always tending to the needs of others and the elderly in their neighborhood were on his list of top priorities. As soon as the Met Office had announced the impending arrival of Hurricane Elsa, he deemed it most important to get them settled in the early. Not even a thought to all he had done to assist them during the volcano. Most of these folks lived alone as relatives either migrated to Europe or the United States, while other younger family members moved to newer communities. Probably some of them would have experienced Hurricane Janet in their youth, but that must be a far memory if at all. Regardless he ensured all four homes were secured and that they had all that was needed, were taken where was safe, even if it meant they all came to our home. Oh how she missed that man. How can memories of good things make one so sad.
“Clara I need you to really focus on what I am trying to say” Dr. Moore interjected her memories. Goodness. She was trying to focus. “Yes, I am hearing you. Please continue doctor.” Sitting up and trying to be as attentive as possible she gave the doctor her full attention.
“I have decided that it’s time for you to go home. We will continue our weekly sessions but you no longer need to remain in isolation. The doctors are happy with your progress and you have been off the ventilator and breathing well on your own for a week now. We all believe you have passed the worst in term of your health.” Clearing his throat Dr. Moore continued, “Clara I know the thought of going home is very difficult given all that has happened, but you have to take this step at some point.” Looking directly into Clara’s eyes Dr. Moore queries, “Do you have someone who can stay with you initially?”
Why would he believe she would wish to be consumed by the constant questions of inquisitive minds. To beside, Covid has not gone anywhere. More so it seems to have gotten worst. They are never enough beds in this isolation centre. Possibly this was also the reason she was being rushed home. Thank God she had passed the worst. They were many events that made her believe she was on her way to meet Tomas and her maker. “I will be quite fine on my own Dr. Moore. I just need to make arrangements to get to my home.”
Closing the office door as she slowly walk to the far end of the corridor she thought about how she really felt about leaving. It was not much the issue of being discharged as it was having to return to her matrimonial home without her husband of twenty-three years. Although a part of her wanted to stay as she was faced with this dilemma and could only imagine the emotion that would overwhelm her as she walked in the door.
As the van drove up the long driveway, she could see the remnants of crops left from the beating of the ashfall and what Hurricane Elsa had considered to leave for them sparsely scattered across the two and a half dozen garden beds. Tomas had spent many early mornings in that ground just before the sun broke the horizon. Always the punctual man. Ensuring he made it to the market by 7:00 am so he would catch the morning shopper on their way to work and still make a good dollar throughout the day, while picking up a last-minute shopper as he packed up to head home.
To her surprise a family of monkeys were in the middle of the field helping themselves to what they pleased. Clara threw herself down in the middle of what cucumbers were left in the field as she watched the family of monkeys race up the hills and swing across the tamarind and breadfruit tree. Back to the new normal they say. But normal for whom? How can normalcy return for me when I have lost my husband, my job and our farm? Tears rolled down her face and she sat right there in the same spot sobbing for hours.
Having had a good cry she knew it was time to get up, dust herself off and figure life out. Yet it was clear although she had lost so much God was still here. Sitting up she positioned herself on her knees and began to cry out to God this time. As she started she remembered the song ‘It is Well With My Soul,’ penned by prominent American lawyer after he tragically lost his four daughters when a steamship sank. For a long time she had sung it but never new the story behind the song. Just as he found faith in God that lead him to write such a powerful song, she must now reignite her faith and push on with her life.
Her life was not without a future. God would bring her out of the depths of this dark season. She will make Tomas proud by making his ‘Farmer’s Market’ a success. She will finish the race. She had to trust God even though she could not see a way through on her own. Faith in the promises of God. He will renew her strength.
Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”